There Were a Record Number of Black Winners at the 2019 Academy Awards [Recap]

Source: ABC

Despite the disappointing ending, it was a historic night at the 2019 Academy Awards.

In the end, Green Book was the big winner. The movie, which had a number of controversies pop up after the film was released, took home three awards at the 91st Academy Awards, including the Best Picture trophy. The movie beat out more popular and critically acclaimed films like Black Panther, Roma, Blackkklansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, and more. Some have called Green Book the worst Best Picture winner in years.

Soon after the win, reports came out that Director Spike Lee — who won his first non-honorary Oscar earlier in the night for Best Adapted Screenplay — was visibly furious and ready to “pull a Kanye West.”

According to Deadline:

Our Pete Hammond reported from the Dolby Theatre that Lee clearly was furious, got up and walked toward the back of the auditorium in a huff. He then turned back and appeared to get into an intense conversation with Jordan Peele, who was behind him. Lee paced the aisle and stormed to the back of the auditorium. When he came back, he turned his back to the stage during the speech.

Backstage, Lee publicly made it be known that Green Book getting the Best Picture win was the “wrong call.”

Even with the disappointment of Green Book winning the top prize, there is hope that the Oscars are still trending towards the right path. Last night a record number of black people took home Academy Awards: seven. Regina King won a Best Supporting Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk.


Legendary designer Ruth E. Carter won the Best Costume Design Oscar for Black Panther. She becomes the first black woman to win the award.

Right after, Hannah Beachler became the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Production Design.

Mahershala Ali picked up the second Oscar of his career, winning a Best Supporting Actor trophy for his performance in Green Book.


Peter Ramsey, who is the co-director of the excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film, won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. This is the first time an African American has won in this category.

And, finally, screenwriter Kevin Willmott won alongside Spike Lee for Best Adapted Screenplay. Spike, with his instant classic speech, dominated the mic so Willmott didn’t get any mic time. But that’s OK: Spike Lee got the first Oscar of his career:


The last time this many black people won an award came in 2017. That year five black people won trophies: Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight; Viola Davis, won Best Supporting Actress for Fences; Ezra Edelman won Best Documentary for O.J.: Made in America; and Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney won Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars for Moonlight.

Coming into the evening, many people thought Black Panther had an outside chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar. Obviously, the movie didn’t win the big prize, but it took home three trophies, in the process becoming the first Marvel movie to win an Oscar.

We’re sure the Academy will try to make up for things in 2022.

Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes in coverage centered around music, pop culture, and politics. Email:

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Dimas Sanfiorenzo

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